by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Meisha Merlin Publishing, 336 pp.
I’m always thrilled whenever I find myself at the same convention as Sharon and Steve. I was even more thrilled to receive a review copy of their new book, Crystal Soldier, from Meisha Merlin. And let me tell you, this book did not disappoint. Taking place in the vividly rich Liaden Universe of Lee and Miller (this is actually a prequel), Soldier puts our heroes in quite a sticky situation. The evil sheriekas (a self-evolved offshoot of humanity that are bent on destroying all traces of their human forbears) are collapsing (decrystallizing) entire solar systems out of existence. M. Jela Granthor’s Guard—a genetically enhanced soldier—is sent out to discover how the enemy is destroying planet after planet, and hopefully find a way to stop them. Accidentally thrown together with Cantra yos’Phelium—a pilot dealing in gray market goods with a shady past—along with a batch-grown servant and Jela’s telepathic potted plant (I’m new to this universe myself but gather that this race of trees play a larger part in the story) our heroes are chased across the war-torn Rim, trying to stay one-step ahead of the sheriekas. Sharply written, this sci-fi adventure is sure to please long-time Liaden fans and isn’t the least bit daunting to newcomers. Soldier is Book One of a two-part series and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see how things turn out.